Waste in New Zealand

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A truck picking up rubbish in Mount Albert, Auckland.

The management of waste in New Zealand has become more regulated to reduce associated environmental issues.


Until recently, waste was taken to local rubbish dumps with little or no control as to where they were sited. Often the dumps were close to water ways. In recent years the location of dumps was consolidated and are now constructed as sanitary landfills to prevent leaching of the contents into water bodies. Transfer stations, especially in cities, act as a local collection point where the waste is compacted before transported to the nearest landfill. [Epsom] and [Mangere] is only two of the cleanest cities in Auckland, New Zealand




Graffiti about waste on a garage door in Christchurch (2009).

Waste volumes from kerbside collections was almost 40,000 tonnes but reduced after the introduction of kerbside recycling and a halving in the number of free rubbish bags. In 2009 the Council introduced 140 litre wheelie bins for kerbside collection after which waste volumes began to rise.[1]


Agricultural plastics

Agriculture is one of the largest sectors of the economy in New Zealand and consequently a large volume of waste is produced in relation to other industries. Collection of containers that contained agricultural chemicals is carried out in some regions. The burning of plastic waste was made illegal in recent years due to the release of toxic pollutants.

Construction waste
Electronic waste

Electronic waste is an increasing part of the waste stream and the Ministry for the Environment are investigating ways of dealing with it. The annual eDay, which started from a trial in 2006, is used as means of collecting electronic waste for reuse or recycling.

Food waste

Statistics on the amount of food waste in New Zealand are not available but a 2007 survey showed that the majority of household make an attempt to minimise food waste

Waste reduction[edit]

By 1996 the New Zealand cities of Auckland, Waitakere, North Shore and Lower Hutt had kerbside recycling bins available. In New Plymouth, Wanganui and Upper Hutt recyclable material was collected if placed in suitable bags.[2] By 2007 73% of New Zealanders had access to kerbside recycling.[3]

Kerbside collection of organic waste is carried out by the Mackenzie District Council[4] and the Timaru District Council. Christchurch City Council has introduced an organic waste collection system as part of kerbside recycling. Other councils are carrying out trials.[4]

Waste legislation[edit]

New Zealand is a signatory to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978, commonly known as MARPOL.

The Green Party tabled a Waste Minimisation Bill in 2006. It passed into law in 2008 as the Waste Minimisation Act. The major provisions of the Act are: a levy on landfill waste, promoting product stewardship schemes, some mandatory waste reporting, clarifies the role of territorial authorities with respect to waste minimisation, and sets up a Waste Advisory Board.[5]


The number of landfills in New Zealand is reducing. In 1995 there were 327 and 115 in 2002 with recent estimates placing the number at less than 100.[6] Notable landfills are located at:

  • Redvale, Albany
  • Whitford, Auckland
  • Hampton Downs, Waikato Region
  • Kate Valley, Canterbury
  • Green Island, Dunedin

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Waste statistics - Rubbish & recycling". Christchurch City Council. July. Retrieved 12 November 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ "The State of New Zealand's Environment". Ministry for the Environment (New Zealand). 1997. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  3. ^ Ministry for the Environment (December 2007). Environment New Zealand 2007. Ministry for the Environment (New Zealand). ISBN 978-0-478-30192-2. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  4. ^ a b Options for Kerbside Collection of Household Organic Wastes - Appendix 1: Kerbside Kitchen Waste Collections in New Zealand [Ministry for the Environment]
  5. ^ "The Waste Minimisation Act 2008". Ministry for the Environment. 2009-03-22. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  6. ^ "New Zealand Waste Strategy 2002 - Reviewing Progress and Moving Forward". Ministry for the Environment. November 2004. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]